The Amos Norman Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research has as its objective support for the development of novel approaches to address the most pressing needs in the fight against pancreatic cancer, early diagnosis and treatment. The first is an actual screening test, analogous to the PSA test for prostate cancer. The test is based on any biomarker for early identification of pancreatic cancer, likely through the deployment of optical spectroscopy. A biomarker is “a molecular indicator of a specific biological property (i.e., cancerous cells in the pancreas); or a biochemical feature that can be used to measure the progress of disease or the effects of treatment” (Source NIH). The first is an actual screening test, analogous to the PSA test for prostate cancer. The UCLA/VA GLAHS biomarker is based upon a unique optical spectroscopy characterization of mouse and ultimately human urine from organisms burdened with pancreatic cancer cells. The technology would allow doctors to detect cancerous cells in the urine, non-invasively, much earlier than is currently possible. An important issue to note here, prior to the introduction of the prostate screening assay (PSA), two-thirds of such cancers were discovered AFTER they were incurable. Now, with PSA testing, doctors can now catch most prostate cancers before they spread beyond the prostate. The Foundations mission is to support the efforts (preferably non-invasively) in the diagnosis/treatment of pancreatic cancer as most of these cancers are found too late in most instances to effectively treat.
See and Treat Device—upon supporting the development of an optically based screening test, The Foundation is planning to support the development of an alternative solution to treat pancreatic cancer. This will be termed a See-And-Treat Device.” This device (perhaps a laser based endoscope) would both diagnose AND treat the cancer through complete pancreas imaging. The hope is that the technology will allow the foundation to support efforts to “locate, characterize, and delineate the margins of diseased tissue.” The technique used for imaging will also serve to deliver energy to actually destroy the cancer (i.e., laser treatment and/or inhibition therapy). Given the focusing capability of such a device, it should be possible to attack only the cancerous cells, in-situ(leaving the healthy tissue in-tact) and will also be able to reach all parts of the pancreas(not an easy task given the size and location of the organ in the body).
Although the development of the “See-And-Treat-Device” is likely much further out than the biomarker, The Foundation sees it as both complementary to the biomarker as well as having an enormous potential for the safe and effective treatment of pancreatic cancer, hence will support and conduct research projects with these objectives.